What is a Super Bloom? – A Silver Lining
If you haven’t already seen images of these remarkable vistas in California and Arizona, then you are missing out on nature in all its glory. These rolling fields of poppies and wildflowers take your breath away. In fact, tourism has blossomed with the explosion of these flowers! Many people from all around the country are experiencing this spectacular event through personally visiting the sites or viewing them on the news or through videos.
So what actually is a super bloom and why is there a silver lining? Read on and learn some facts about super blooms.
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What is a Super Bloom?
A super bloom (not a scientific name but one that was coined in the 1990’s) is a rare phenomenon in which an explosion of wild flowers blooms at the same time after the flowers had rested dormant for many years. This phenomenon can occur in desert and/or drought stricken areas. Areas in California and Arizona have experienced such an awakening this past spring. Super blooms have also occurred in Texas, Colorado, and parts of Nevada throughout the years.
What Causes a Super Bloom?
Simple……prolonged drought followed by inundating rain.
A long drought followed by ferocious precipitation is the ideal climate for creating super blooms. California and Arizona have recently experienced such.
Indeed, California has been in a drought since 2019, receiving far less than the normal amount of rainfall, which is defined as the average precipitation between 1991 through 2020. One could almost say that California turned into a desert during these years.
As a result of persistent desert-like conditions, little water was available for plants, causing them to go dormant. (For more information on drought resistant flowers to plant in your own garden, click here.)
In contrast to the previous three years, in recent months California has had a deluge of precipitation. This torrent of rainfall extended from December, 2022 through March, 2023. It was almost as if a switch was turned on, which literally drowned out the drought. Rivers of rain in the lower parts of the state on the coast and in the valleys and dump-truck loads of snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains created the perfect conditions for super blooms.
Wildflowers need water to germinate and grow. These super blooms are occuring because the seeds that were lying underneath the surface in a sleeping stage for many years have suddenly been rekindled.
Where Did the Seeds Come From?
Wildflower seeds, along with other perennial seeds, can lay dormant in soil seed banks for decades. These seeds are waiting for “just the right conditions” to begin their life cycles….similar to ladies in waiting from the olden days! Lol!
There are many seeds resting underneath the surface of deserts. By definition a desert typically receives only 10 inches of rain throughout the year. The cumulative precipitation is greatly reduced by evaporation, causing extremely dry conditions.
Once the conditions change and deserts or drought areas receive lots of rain over a prolonged period, the seeds begin to germinate and burst out of the ground. Since these atmospheric conditions simultaneously occured over a massive area of land, flowers which normally do not blossom at the same time are flowering in concert with each other.
Here is a video of a super bloom in California. Enjoy this beautiful, calming video by John Zhang to the tune of Sounds of Silence.
Why is it a Silver Lining?
Whenever there is widespread devastation like what hit California this past winter and spring, people living through it try to gather strength by looking on the bright side of things, hence, the silver lining. This super bloom would not have occurred if not for years of drought and then wicked floods and epic snowfalls. It’s hard to draw some good from such catastrophic destruction, but these super blooms can renew our faith in our rapidly changing world. In my opinion, it’s similar to seeing a beautiful rainbow after a drenching rain.
I know it doesn’t erase all the heartache for the people who lived through these disasters, but in a small way it brings hope that the future will be better.
What Flowers are in the California Super Bloom?
Seeds that are native to the regions are now blooming due to this phenomenon.
Some include the popular California poppy. This flower has many names such as golden poppy, California sunlight or cup of gold. It is native to the United States and Mexico. These flowers are easy to grow and make for a beautiful vista of orange.
Beautiful blue lupines have been sighted in the California super bloom. They can be either annuals which reseed from year to year, or perennials, depending on where you live.
Blue cornflowers also spread with seed. These dainty puffs of blue have silver foliage, attract American goldfinch, and are sometimes called batchelor buttons.
The fiddleneck is a common wildflower in western North America. It is named fiddleneck because its flower resembles a violin or fiddle.
Western Blue-Eyed Grass
The western blue-eyed grass is used by Native Americans for medicinal purposes. The roots are made into teas which relieve digestive problems. The plant is also used to cure stomach aches and help with menstrual disorders.
Treat the Super Blooms With Respect
Many people have come to visit these super blooms. People love to take selfies with beautiful backgrounds. These fields create unique settings for such pictures however, be respectful of this natural phenomenon. Stepping on the blossoms will alter the natural progression of the flower cycle, including the production of seeds. When the blooms and plants are squished, the seeds will not produce. Without the seeds, the blooms will not recur.
Also, all the trampling of the fields leads to more soil compaction. If the soil is too compact the seeds will not settle properly in the soil, and them go dormant and reawaken the next time the conditions are ripe for a super bloom.
So please respect nature by staying on the paths and be cognizant where you are walking.
Final Thoughts: What is a Super Bloom?
Nature is magnificent. Every once in awhile we are blessed with supernatural events like a super bloom. I have to wonder though, with the way our climate patterns are changing, if we may be seeing more and more unusual happenings in unexpected areas. We all have to get onboard and protect Mother Earth. Even picking up trash around your house or eliminating the use of plastic wrap can help. Every little thing helps. You can be the seed that was planted to help knowledge grow and spread and keep our Earth clean and healthy.
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